If you graduated from high school in 1996, you will remember that there was a fellow graduate that year whose star shined a bit brighter than everyone else's. While most of us would be heading off to college in the fall of that year, this young man would be preparing for his rookie year in the NBA.
Flash forward 14 years and you have 31-year old married father of two, who has won four NBA titles, numerous scoring titles, and has been voted an All Star 12 times.
This man's name is Kobe Bean Bryant and whether you like him or not, you need to start appreciating him; because frankly, you will never see a player like him again.
Remember, folks. Kobe came into the league at a time when Michael Jordan was in the middle of his second three-peat. He's a student of the greats, and had a type of game that was well beyond his years.
The fact that he was so young and so good just made him a marketing executive's dream.
As the great ones often do, Bryant has been able to make shots that make even fellow NBA players shake their heads in amazement. Night after night, Kobe has been able to put on a show of effortless skill that will have us giving a standing ovation for years to come.
His work ethic is unmatched. Like MJ, the guy is naturally good, yet he works his tail off to keep getting better. It's that factor alone that makes you have to at least tip your hat to the man.
Kobe is an assassin. He just knows how to keep his foot on your throat if he knows he's got you beat.
Ever since Bryant came into the league, there have been the comparisons. In reality though, at 18, he wasn't ready. While his skill level was high, his court leadership was yet to be polished.
At 31, Kobe is a floor general. Hard to the bone, grilling teammates who don't give 110% of themselves, just like Jordan did back in the 90's.
He's so much like Jordan that he even has Phil Jackson as a coach.